In the Fall of 1861, three brothers answered the call of duty, enlisting together in the 76th New York Volunteer Infantry. Only one would return home. After nearly two years of service, Hannibal Howell, the oldest brother, would come face to face with his destiny on July 1st, 1861.
Richard Townsend’s first military experience was provost duty in Washington City with the 10th New Jersey. He joined Company C of the 12th New Jersey just days before the Battle of Chancellorsville—his trial by fire. The regiment fought hard at the Bliss Barn in July 1863, but it was during the repulse of Pickett’s Charge that Townsend went down. In his absence, his young wife struggled to support a son who would never know his father.
At the outbreak of the war, Francis Gould left his job as a millworker for the thrill of military service. He was one of the men of the 13th Massachusetts Infantry mortally wounded during the struggle for Oak Ridge on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. His final resting place is disputed, with a gravestone in both Gettysburg National Cemetery and near his home in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts gave Corporal Prince Dunton and the state’s 13th Volunteer Infantry a patriotic send-off when they left Boston. He was wounded while fighting on the First Day at the Battle of Gettysburg and found trampled at the end of the day as Union forces retreated through town. He left no family of his own behind, but his parents collected his pension until they too passed away.
For a brief period after the Second Battle of Bull Run, Mark Beatty deserted the Army, returning after Lincoln issued a proclamation of amnesty to soldiers who returned to their units. In spite of his momentary lapse of courage, Beatty served reliably for another eleven months before being killed in the fury of the Wheatfield. His death left his family without income, driving his mother to endure the exhausting process of seeking a pension.
A young teacher who enlisted out of a sense of patriotic duty, Lieutenant Edmund Dascomb became the unofficial warrior poet of the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. Mortally wounded during the fight in the Wheatfield, Dascomb was found barely alive three days later, lingering until July 13. In memorial of their friend, his fellow soldiers compiled and published his poetry, including a poem called “The Dying Volunteer,” which was put to music for his funeral.
Sergeant George Buck left his family’s modest but comfortable farm to serve his country with the 20th Maine Infantry. During an illness that struck him in the wake of the Battle of Fredericksburg, Buck had a run-in with a quartermaster and was demoted to the ranks. He continued serving capably in spite of this injustice. At his death, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain restored his rank of sergeant.
Benjamin Crippen was just 21 years old when he became the color sergeant of the 143rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. During the fight for McPherson’s Ridge, his regiment was eventually forced back. During their retreat, Crippin turned to the advancing Confederates and shook his fist defiantly. He was shot through the chest. The regiment’s monument features Crippin in his final moments of life.
Follow Corporal John Pardington, a young immigrant from England, during the last march of the Iron Brigade. His letters to his young wife capture the strain of separation during his time away at war. Because his death at Gettysburg, Pardington’s daughter would grow up without a father, forcing her to be strong in his absence.